The most common symptoms or conditions treated in our EVND office includes stomach pain, constipation, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome(IBS), ulcerative colitis(UC), crohn’s, reflux disease(GERD), colitis, eosinophilic esophagitis, and suspected parasitic infections. Research, testing, and experience have exposed the most common concerns that are the root causes of the various intestinal disorders.
IgG Food Intolerances
The first most common cause of digestive complaints is IgG food intolerances. Although not infectious, IgG food intolerances create stronger immune defects than some infectious agents. This idea throws many people off since most patients have never noticed any allergic reactions to food. This is because food allergies also produce other antibodies such as IgG, IgM, and even IgA that are different in their immune response compared to IgE, which causes obvious and generally immediate allergic reactions when consumed. The antibodies produced, which are linked to many illnesses, are the IgG class, which are also known as delayed or slow onset allergic reactions. In other words, the reaction occurs hours and even days following the exposure. These become extremely difficult to determine when using symptoms as the only diagnostic criteria. With an IgG food allergy test a patient is able to view upwards of a two hundred or more foods ranging from grains, animal proteins, fruits, vegetable, legumes, and even yeast and candida. These tests can be invaluable to help determine a potent underlying cause of GI conditions and symptoms.
In previous articles we have stated, that yeast has a major side effect leading to localized inflammation and irritation in the gastrointestinal(GI) tract. Many studies in the last few years have also shed light on the additional contribution from proteins that were once deemed healthy. For example, gluten, contained in wheat, barley, and rye, produces a protein called Zonulin that causes severe irritation of intestinal cells and leads to leaky gut. This leaky gut in turn causes the intestinal tract and immune system to react to any and all proteins that are introduced in the intestinal tract from the diet. In time we become reactive to everything that we eat. Just like yeast, normal or even healthy foods, become major immune distractors.
With the immune system being overwhelmed by these food proteins, healing from normal “wear and tear” is reduced. The cure is in discovering the food allergies through testing and removing those foods to allow the gastrointestinal tract to heal. In time with proper dietary protocols and with additional support of an anti-yeast diet symptoms improve. Food allergies along with yeast are the most oft overlooked causes of gastrointestinal complaints. Testing is key and success is sure as we begin to heal the gut. (A negative celiac panel is insufficient to rule out gluten IgG reactivity.) Consider that the leading food allergy is also the leading health food, wheat. A blessing to some and a curse for so many others. IgG food sensitivity testing is the only way to know for sure.
Candida and Yeast
The second source is infections or overgrowth arising from the fungi family, namely candida and fungi. Candida is a yeast form, which as an an organism, is part of an even larger family called Fungi. Fungi have been around for thousands of years and are probably some of the most, if not the most, resilient organisms to exist on this planet. They have adapted to many types of harsh and barren landscapes. They have even developed the ability to live without oxygen or very little oxygen for extended periods of time. This suggests they are hard to destroy or eradicate even when using the most aggressive prescription therapies.
The fungus form known as Candida resides in many places, but it enjoys dark, moist, and carbohydrate rich environments, which also includes the gastrointestinal(GI) tract. The question is how does Fungi and Candida affect the GI tract? Candida appears to be the predominant form with activity arising in the GI tract. Although it is not completely clear, it seems these issues with yeast arose with the advent and excessive use of antibiotics. Antibiotics can be miraculous due to their ability to destroy disease causing bacteria in the body, but when taken orally, they disrupt the flora balance of the entire GI tract, giving the yeast forms permission to grow and spread unchecked by a healthy and abundant microbiome.
Flora is the combination of many types of friendly and even unfriendly bacteria that produce enzymes that digest food, that act as a protective barrier to the intestinal walls, and they enliven or strengthen the immune system. Antibiotics change this fragile balance and create a situation where normal yeast forms, perhaps residing in low dose within the GI tract, begin to flourish and grow or replicate in abundance without any friendly bacteria to control yeast growth. In essence, antibiotic use changes the microflora environment from a protective role, to a war zone taken over by another host in the form of candida or yeast.
These yeast are toxic and begin to cause significant inflammation in the GI tract with a subsequent increase in histamine, eosinophils, mucous, and result in a significant distraction or irritant to the immune system. In addition these yeast can begin to break down the gut barrier leading to and causing “leaky gut syndrome,” UC, Crohn’s, IBS, and all other inflammatory bowel disorders.
To understand the consequence of yeast overgrowth, imagine your immune system to be an army of 1 million white blood cells. They have the job to protect the borders and restore every cell back to normal functioning from the days normal “wear and tear.” Consider now that up to 80% of the bodies immune defense surrounds or resides surrounding the GI tract housed in the lymphatic tissue. The presence of yeast in the GI tract in essence, distracts up to 80% of your normal immune defense from its normal task of evaluating and eliminating viruses, toxins, and other noxious infections.
It does not take long before the immune system becomes completely distracted and even exhausted, while it wages a war against yeast which have an endless potential to replicate. Why do I say this? Well, all yeast needs to survive and thrive is sugar. This is of course supplied in abundance in the average diet.
The first and most important step in recovering from Yeast and Candida is to reduce yeast expression in the GI tract. We do this by first altering the diet to reduce yeast exposure, eliminating sugar to reduce its food supply, and take natural yeast killers and possibly medications to reduce the presence and symptoms associated with yeast. We have created protocols for achieving this goal in the most effective and safest possible way, with improvement in symptoms in just a few weeks. If you are curious about yeasts presence, we can test and validate this theory very quickly through our EVND office with labs often covered by insurance.
The third leading cause is parasites and parasitic worms. At the root of the majority of gastrointestinal disease is the presence of living infectious agents, called parasites. Parasitic infections can be in the form of worms or protozoa making the diagnosis challenging. We enlist the expertise of various specialists in parasite evaluation. With there assistance we have been able to find and successfully treat uncommon infectious parasites from all over the world. Most are contracted within the US, even without extensive travel abroad.
Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth
The fourth leading infectious agent is small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). SIBO is a newcomer in medicine, although it has been treated for years in the natural world. SIBO is caused by a multitude of known and suspected factors. One reason is due to overuse of antibiotics, another is the consumption of specific foods which grow certain bacteria that then become to abundant. Every drug, food, or bacteria that presents itself in the GI tract can change the balance of normal or abnormal bacteria. The resultant changes have been associated with diagnoses and symptoms such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) which causes both loose stools or constipation. In studies of modern treatments for SIBO, we see symptoms reduced in greater than 80% of patients with a history of IBS. The natural treatment of SIBO contributes also to the treatment and eradication of yeast and food allergies, leading to improvement in symptoms.
Based on the presenting symptoms and prior testing your Naturopathic physician will develop a testing and treatment plan that targets to root issues as well as the symptoms to restore normal and desired function. Review the following articles and presentations to gain greater understanding on the various infections, imbalances, and immune responses responsible for your gastrointestinal symptoms.